Dire shortage of clinical psychologists in Estonia

Brochure featuring depressions brosures.
Brochure featuring depressions brosures. Source: ERR

A shortage of clinical psychologists in Estonia remains, despite the subject being a popular one to study, ERR's Novaator portal reports. The main factor is funds, with the state only capable of providing €400,000 in a year to the field.

A total of 179 people hold a clinical psychologist's professional certificate at present, Novaator reports. However, demand would require nearly twice this number, for primary healthcare and specialist healthcare combined.

As reported on ERR News, psychology as a bachelor's topic is the most in-demand course at Tallinn University (TLÜ), with around 16 applicants per seat.

However, this interest falls off at master's degree level, with about half of those who read psychology pursuing it to master's level, with a view to becoming a professional psychologist, head of TLÜ's psychology curriculum Kadi Liik told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Monday night.

This is despite the increase in need for working psychologists, Liik said.

"Obviously, market demand is currently higher than universities can train or supply. If you're asking why universities do not offer more, then it's because the resources of universities are somewhat limited," Liik told AK.

Triinu Tänavsuu, head of the main body representing the profession, the association of clinical psychologists (Kliiniliste Psühholoogide Kutseliit), concurred, noting that the lack of funds was not for want of trying.

"In fact, Estonia does not currently have a state-funded professional year in clinical psychology. This has been requested by the Ministry of Social Affairs several times and is a matter of political decision. These decisions are simply the face of the current government and Riigikogu," she said.

One master's student in psychology at the University of Tartu, Pärtel Poopuu, noted that given the amount spent directly or indirectly as a result of mental health issues - €572 million in a year – the €400,000 per year seems like a drop in the ocean.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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